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Stories That Touch the Heart

 

Sometimes, when you read a book, it is just a story. Other times the story reaches out and grabs you with both hands and touches your heart. That’s what the book ‘Twice Adopted’ by Michael Reagan © 2004, Broadman & Holman, Nashville USA, did to me when I read it.

Mike is the adopted eldest son of Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States of America. He is also a syndicated radio talk-show host, who has a 200 station hook-up across the USA. Mike has authored a number of bestselling books and appears on TV regularly.

Sean Hannity says this of Mike Reagan. “Mike is a courageous, compassionate and generous human being. He is honest to a fault. In this book, Mike turns his life inside out and dumps it on the table for the whole world to see. He has held nothing back. In ‘Twice Adopted’ Michael reveals the pain, fears and tortured memories of a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. He also shares the story of his salvation and redemption from those painful memories and his self destructive behaviour . . . Mike’s story will make you angry. It will bring tears to your eyes. It will challenge, inform and motivate you. And one more thing . . . it will change your life.”

Sean is right. If you have experienced any level of family dysfunction, and let’s face it, most of us have who are alive today in the western world; you will find some part of Michael Reagan’s story to call your own. The fact that he was the son of the President of the United States makes it all the more interesting. Perhaps Michael’s words at his father’s memorial service give us an insight into the drama more fully told in the book.

Good evening. I’m Mike Reagan. You knew my father as governor, as president, but I knew him as Dad. I want to tell you a little bit about my dad – a little bit about Cameron and Ashley’s grandfather, because not a whole lot is ever spoken about that side of Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan adopted me into his family in 1945. I was the chosen one. I was the lucky one. And in all of his years, he never mentioned that I was adopted, either behind my back or in front of me. I was his son, Michael Edward Reagan.

When his family grew to be two families, he didn’t walk away from the one to go to the other. He became a father to both families. To Patti and then Ronnie, but always to my sister Maureen and myself.

We looked forward to those Saturday mornings when he would pick us up. We’d sit on the curb on Beverly Glen as his car would turn the corner from Sunset Boulevard, and we would get in and ride to his ranch and play games – and he would always make sure it ended up a tie. We would swim and we would ride horses or we’d just watch him cut firewood. We were in awe of our father.

As years went by and I became older and found the woman I would marry, Colleen, Dad sent me a letter about marriage and how important it was to be faithful to the woman you love – with a PS: “You’ll never get in trouble if you say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.” And I’m sure he told Nancy every day “I love you,” just as I tell Colleen.

He also sent letters to his grandchildren. He wasn’t able to be the grandfather that many of you are able to be because of the job that he had. So he would write letters. He sent one letter to Cameron and said: “Cameron, some guy got ten thousand dollars for my signature. Maybe this letter will help you pay for your college education.” He signed it “Grandpa,” then added, “PS. Your grandpa is the fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.”

Those are the kinds of things my father did.

At the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, my father and I would tell each other we loved each other and we would give each other a hug. As the years went by and he could no longer verbalise my name, he recognised me as the man who hugged him. So when I would walk into the house, he would be there in his chair opening up his arms for that hug hello and the hug good-bye. It was a blessing truly brought on by God.

We had wonderful blessings of that nature – wonderful, wonderful blessings that my father gave to me each and every day of my life. I was so proud to have the Reagan name and to be Ronald Reagan’s son. What a great honour . . . Thank you for letting me share my father, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Lovework

Read a book that inspires you, challenges you and motivates you to be a better father. Fathers are imperfect creatures at the best of times, but in spite of all our imperfections our children need us so much more that we will ever know.

‘Twice Adopted’ is all about the power of a father’s love in more ways than one. A country can always find another president but a good father is irreplaceable.

Yours for stories to touch the heart
Warwick Marsh

PS. The Dads4Kids community service announcements are getting plenty of airplay and our office is getting quite an overwhelming response. Thanks for helping us to make these powerful adverts to promote the importance of fatherhood.

 

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